Stock Novice called me out on one of my posts last week. The one about onion soup where I was all, “Go grab yourself some homemade beef stock out of your freezer, which you surely keep jam-packed full of hand-crafted broths in well-marked, dated containers arranged alphabetically by animal.” As if everyone pees homemade stock.
Her question was a good one: How do you incorporate stock-making into your daily life? I would follow that up with: And why? And if we’re going that far, we might as well define stock, which is just broth made with bones and vegetables. Why bones? Because they have a lot of flavor (but you can make “stock” out of vegetables alone and nobody’s going to sue you). I cook with stock for the same reason that I tend to favor fresh, local produce: because my cooking comes out so much better that way. You get a high rate of return for a minimal investment, at least by my calculations.
The best time to embark on stock-making is in the fall, winter, or early spring when it’s cold and you want to be warm. It will make your house toasty and delicious-smelling. I make and use a lot of stock in the winter for soups, and the remainder gets put away for the summer. Making stock is quite simple. It is time-consuming, but the bulk of that time is completely unsupervised. So, I might put a pot on after breakfast and let it go while I vacuum (meaning check my e-mail), clean the bathroom (meaning check Twitter), break up some squabbles (meaning yell from the other room and hope for the best), and do some laundry (meaning read blogs while actually doing laundry because I haven’t figured out how to get out of that, yet).
In other words, if you’re at all homebody-ish and/or computer-oriented, then stock is a good way to justify your time. Or, as a completely hypothetical example, to get out of an unwanted social engagement:
Friend: Hey, think you can help me move this weekend?
You: Didn’t you just move?
You: Oh, man, I totally wish I could, but I have the whole weekend blocked out to make stock.
Friend: Dude, that sounds so hard.
You: It’s crazy hard.
Friend: Why don’t you let loose for a few hours? Maybe grab one end of a pool table for me…
You: I can’t, man. Fire hazard. Talk to the stock. When the stock’s a-rocking, don’t come a-knocking.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about a fringe benefit of stock I like to call “edible composting,” as well as how to make four different kinds of stock. And then, what the hell to use them for. Perhaps I can drag this topic out for a whole year! Stay tuned.